BPS holds live fire training to learn smoke patterns

Published 5:14 pm Friday, July 28, 2017


Bainbridge Public Safety conducted a live firefighter training Thursday morning on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

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Fire chief Doyle Welch received an authorization to burn after the homeowners opted to use it for fire training. Authorizations to burn are typically given to dilapidated buildings that need to be cleaned up and taken care of. Not only does this allow live fire training for BPS but it also allows Bainbridge residents to “feel safe at any time,” which is the motto BPS is striving for. The homes usually house old clothes and remnants of vagrants coming in and out, along with various items that could be linked to drug usage. Chief Welch along with the rest of the team search room by room before taking on the burning task. Thursday’s training focused on learning about building construction, arson investigation, smoke reading and following the airflow.

BPS typically has to practice a burn building in a steel box, according to Chief Welch. However, this allows them to be in the environment they actually fight the fire in. The firefighters were able to follow the airflow to the back of the house Thursday and read the smoke and ventilation patterns. Through following the smoke and fire, they were able to see that by closing a door, individuals buy themselves 20 extra minutes to get out or find an escape. Welch reminds everyone to sleep with their door closed incase of a fire in the middle of the night.  In addition to the door buying extra time, the firefighters were able to learn about balloon framing. The tin roof had been removed, causing the fire to invade the balloon framing of the house. From there, the house fell to the ground all at one time.

After watching the house burn to the ground, the firefighters conduct research on why this happened, just as they do with any fire around Decatur County. “We treat every fire scene as a crime scene, unless we have reason to do otherwise,” Welch said. In order to do this they read the smoke and follow the velocity. Lighter colored smoke is where water vapor was present and darker smoke shows there are still particles that are capable of combusting.

Doyle is thankful for this opportunity to do the live fire training. He said Keith Pollock, John Mills and Trey Mock have been instrumental in helping them get the eyesores out of Bainbridge and get them secured, so children don’t wander into abandoned homes and file a civil action suit when something happens. He encourages everyone to consider opting for this if they have a property they are unsure of what to do with.